One of the most common complaints we hear at our office is feeling fatigued. Fatigue is a way for our body to let us know it needs to rest and recover. Fatigue can be caused by intense exercise or lack of sleep. When a good amount of sleep and rest doesn’t help you recover, fatigue becomes chronic. Chronic fatigue makes you feel physically tired and weak, struggle to complete daily tasks, and slightly depressed. If you feel you are always tired, fatigue is probably a symptom of some other condition. The good news is you can usually defeat fatigue and live vibrantly with a few simple changes and natural remedies.
The American lifestyle is often one of too much stress, too much work, too much worry, not enough relaxation or sleep, and poor eating habits. This makes you tired. When this fatigue is prolonged or allowed to exist for weeks on end, it can become chronic. Chronic fatigue is one of the most debilitating health issues you can grapple with. It saps your energy and joy for life. Often, it can lead to depression. The following are common causes of fatigue.
Anemia is a condition caused by a lack of red blood cells. Newer ones do not timely replace old red blood cells. This causes problems in oxygen transport, resulting in chronic fatigue. In addition, you may become anemic due to low iron, folate, or vitamin B12 intake. Increasing the intake of these vitamins and minerals in your diet usually helps with fatigue. Anemia can be diagnosed by examining the patient’s medical history, symptoms, and test results (red blood cells (RBC), hemoglobin, and hematocrit, Ferritin, B12, Folate.)
Anemia is a disorder that makes it hard for your blood to move oxygen around your body. A common type is called iron deficiency anemia. Iron acts like a train car that transports oxygen in your blood. Unfortunately, people with low iron don’t have enough cars on their train. As a result, they’re tired, get dizzy when they stand up, have brain fog, and have heart palpitations. You can find out if you are anemic with a simple blood test.
Another possible reason for fatigue could be type 2 diabetes. Diabetes affects the body’s energy management capabilities by increasing insulin resistance.
Your doctor will have you take one or more of the following blood tests to confirm the diagnosis – Hemoglobin A1C Test, fasting blood sugar, urinalysis, and others.
Doctors don’t know precisely why diabetes makes people so tired. However, one likely reason is that your body uses lots of energy to deal with your frequent changes in blood sugar levels. What doctors know is that fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of diabetes.
Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits in your neck. It makes a hormone that helps control how you use energy. You’re out of whack when your thyroid gland is out of whack.
The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that help regulate the body’s metabolism. An underactive thyroid gland results in a condition known as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism may be caused by other conditions, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. People with an underactive thyroid are going to feel tired. This is because their cells aren’t working well, they’re sluggish, and their reflexes are slow.
Your doctor may test your thyroid hormones to see if they are to blame for your fatigue. To check for hypothyroidism you will want to test your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and check free T3 and free T4 levels.
Extreme tiredness is a common symptom of congestive heart failure, which happens when it doesn’t pump as well as it should. If you have it, your fatigue usually gets worse when you exercise. You might also have swelling in your arms or legs and shortness of breath.
Adrenal Gland Issues
Your adrenal glands produce a variety of hormones that are essential to life. The term adrenal insufficiency refers to inadequate production of one or more hormones due to an underlying disease or surgery.
Signs and symptoms of adrenal insufficiency may include:
- Body aches
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of body hair
- Skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation)
Adrenal insufficiency can be diagnosed by blood tests and special stimulation tests that show inadequate levels of adrenal hormones or excess cortisol – the stress hormone. You may also want to check your DHEA levels. DHEA helps produce other hormones, including testosterone and estrogen. Natural DHEA levels peak in early adulthood and slowly fall as you age. Low levels of DHEA can also cause fatigue.
This disorder keeps you from getting enough oxygen when you sleep which means you won’t get rest during the night.
Your brain notices you’re not getting rid of your CO2 and wakes up briefly in an alarmed state. But unfortunately, you don’t even realize it, which makes it hard to figure out why you’re so sleepy during the day.
When you have sleep apnea, you don’t get into REM — the sleep that makes you feel best.
Being depressed robs your brain of the necessary chemicals that allow it to work at its best. One of those is serotonin, which helps regulate your internal body clock.
Depression can lower your energy levels and make you feel tired during the day. You may also find it hard to fall asleep at night, or you might wake up earlier than you want in the morning.
For most, a COVID-19 infection means a week in bed with symptoms ranging from something like the common cold to flu-like. Once it’s over, life gets back to normal. However, not everyone is so lucky. For that unlucky contingent, Long Covid can continue to make their lives difficult on a daily basis creating chronic fatigue.
If you are suffering from chronic fatigue, call Doctor’s Nutrition today and learn what you can do to discover the cause. Be sure to ask about our new Fatigue Blood Panel!